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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 17,866,256  

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Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 74

Lurker/Post Ratio: 442 to 1

Question of the Week: 112 - 5/28/2003

Elders: Who Are They and Do We Really Need Them?

From The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

elder : 1. an older person, especially one with a respected position in society; 2. an official of a religious group.

What is your definition of an Elder? Do we need Elders? Do we want Elders? What would be the role of an Elder in the Pagan/Heathen communities?

Who decides who is an Elder? Can someone simply declare him/herself an Elder? Do you discern a difference between ‘someone with a respected position in society’ and ‘an official of a religious group’? Can a solitary practitioner – who is not an ‘official’ of a recognized group, but nevertheless provides something of value to Paganism/Heathenism -- be considered an Elder?

Is age a factor? Wisdom? Proven track record? Who do you consider to be an Elder?

 Reponses:   There are 74 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Old People Smell Weird May 31st. at 6:34:12 pm UTC

Al Roth (San Francisco) Age: 44 - Email

Ya know, when an old fart tries to offer a young man/woman a pepermint, they're only doing it so that they can get near enough to choke 'em with their "here comes the grave" musk. Elders?! I say shoot 'em before they start to smell too bad. All they do is talk about how their bowel movements are going and which stool softener gets them off the best. Then, as if they haven't already grossed us out enough, they find that swimsuit they wore twenty years ago that they looked horrific in then, put their latex swim caps on, and take over the swimming pool. Well, at least they had the courtesy to change their Depends before they got into the pool. Which reminds me...oh well, no one will know - not with the crowd that I hang out with.
Full of sh*t as usual,
Al Roth

P.S. The wisest elder has the most irreverent sense of humor.

WOW. Neko That Is Pretty Totalitarian . May 31st. at 7:17:59 pm UTC

Maleciah (Oregon) Age: 25 - Email

If you think drinking black coffee and soda disqualifies you for being an elder then you are going to be hard pressed to find an elder in your eyes. I have been in the craft since I was in kindergarten and have been raised in it. I too find it hard to find people who have been in paganism longer than myself. Elders in their own right will never have to worry about convincing people. when you meet them and get to know them you just know. And people that I come across I find to be elders, I am extra respectful to them simply because I value their wisdom and presence. And I don't base it on what they drink. There is a point to the term of treating your body as an altar. And to disrespect or look down on them due to what they drink or do shows how much learning is still left as far as teaching people pagan ways.

Admittedly there will be those that claim to be an elder but you don't feel that they are. You should have the self- responsibility to know and to approach those people cautiously and take what they say with a grain of salt. They may not be an elder to you, but they maybe to someone and you are not ment to learn under him or her so, therefore, you wouldn't see them as an elder. so you should move on. but don't disrespect someone for something so petty.

"I Aspire To Nothingness." May 31st. at 8:41:06 pm UTC

Frater Nun (Durham, NC) Age: 34 - Email

Dear brothers and sisters,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

What does it matter what a man proclaims himself to be?

His true nature is apparent to the worthy.

Love is the law, love under will.


Frater Nun
"I aspire to nothingness."

Elder-teacher/mentor/guide/sage/crone Jun 1st. at 1:45:15 am UTC

Rev. Frank Paldino (Youngstown, Ohio) Age: 35 - Email

I am an ordained Wiccan Priest and licensed in the state of Ohio, although I hold no degrees or have been initiated in a tradition. I am currently attaining a masters degree in Counseling, although it is not the education, degrees, or titles we hold that determines our importance. Those in The Craft who have met me perceive wisdom beyond my chronological years sensing an old spirit, even though I do not place myself above anyone.
I believe we are recognized by our actions, words, and beliefs perceived by others that determine our importance. We are remembered by our wisdom and virtues. I offer my knowledge and experience freely to those who the Lord and Lady has sent me, asking only companionship in return. At every opportunity I increase public awareness of The Old Religion for I know that it will eventually be known for what it truly is and not prey to the falsehood of propaganda. The few of us who are brave enough to understand our path in life is not one of pride, arrogance, or prestige but of the continuation of paganism as a way of life and of our own enlightenment.
The qualifications of an elder in paganism depends on one's point of view and the path one walks. I believe the criteria of being accepted in the community as an elder should be considered on an individual basis. Not all pagans live in an area accessible to initiate into a tradition, wisdom is not determined by age, it is not in everyone's interest to attain an advanced education, years of magical knowledge or experience is determined by how many incarnations one has lived a magickal life, and how much we make personal sacrifices for the betterment of others who have come to us in need. Since there is no recognized criteria determining if one is an elder, the decision is a personal one. Once we make that decision we are tested, and tested hard, ultimately by the Goddess and God themselves. If you do succeed then other pagans who
meet you will percieve your right to be called an elder for they will sense the Lord and Lady's touch within you, your unique oneness with nature, and the sincerity and truth radiating from your heart. They will reconize your value because they will say, "I have been searching for someone and I know it is you", or perhaps you will know the Lord and Lady sent them to you for a reason, not to someone else.

Everyone Are Elders Jun 1st. at 1:53:43 am UTC

Gabriel (vegas) Age: 14 - Email

In a way, I think all people are elders. The traditional deffinition of an elder is someone older than you who knows more, someone you can learn from. I believe in reincarnation, so a lot of people are older than me. And as for the second issue, I belive that you can learn some thing from everyone, no matter what their age.

I'm Not. Jun 1st. at 7:40:47 am UTC

Neko (Calgary Canada) Age: 21 - Email

I'm not. I just know what I've seen here. I've seen people who openly abuse their bodies and seem to be out of control in their own lives. They don't seem to know boundries with themselves or other people.

I don't really care what anyone else thinks.. I'd distance myself from anyone who claimed to be a Priest or Priestess of a religion which has no linage to begin with.

It really concerns me that just any person can wander around calling themself a priest or priestess. I've seen a so called "priest" who had less basic knowlege (not magical, factual) about the occult subjects than I did. I'm not saying that everyone who enjoys a nice smoke and a cola isn't qualified for eldership..

But there's always going to be some person who will take my words at complete black and white and discard what I'm trying to say..

What I was trying to explain in my generally crude fashion was that if your gonna call yourself an HP/Hps or an elder you BETTER have the qualifications and the ..ehem.. *yknow* to back that up. I'm VERY skeptic of anyone who claims to be a great priest or a priestess.. I've seen some really pathetic attempts at faking it and the fakes ussally show through with lack of respect for themselves, for others and for the world around them in general..

Apples And Oranges Jun 1st. at 8:52:10 am UTC

willow (Ottawa On) Age: 41 - Email

Well, I've read all the responses to date and always enjoy the variety of views. Some make you say "aha!".. and some make you think "h'mmmmmmmm".....

For ME... and Elder is someone *I* can turn to for guidance, advice, answers. Someone who is an Elder to me, may not be an Elder to you... or maybe they are. Age has no bearing.. however i think experience does to an extent... the experience i speak of is LIFE experience. I had an interesting discussion with my 86 year old father just last night about religion and sex. More about belief systems than the down and dirty..LOL... but he is completly opposed to same sex marriages and new age "religions"... ALL in how is has raised... by the end of our conversation, i was able to have him "see" a small glimpse of MY view (a HUGE success in my view) ... do i see him as an Elder? Actually, in some respects yes and in others no. I will turn to him for advice on large purchases (house, car, etc) or financial planning.. in THOSE instances he certainly fits the bill... however for a spiritual Elder, I will turn to those who can back up what they "preach" with firm and proven logic.

and perhaps.. i'm simply confusing the term Elder, with Mentor... to me, they are synonomous....


What Is A Headline? Jun 1st. at 9:30:53 am UTC

Annalijse (A dark room) Age: 14 - Email

The traditional definition seems to be someone older than you.

In my opinion, an elder is someone older than you who has had more life experience and can share it with you in a way that's understandable.

So you can always learn something from your elders. You can sometimes even teach your elders something, which is often a very nice feeling.



Elders Jun 1st. at 9:59:23 am UTC

Luna Calum Keelia (ontario) Age: 12 - Email

First of all even i know elders are chosen by the people in the coven. do u really need and elder .no. but they can be helpful. elders need to be wise not nessesscarily old.

As With Most Things... Jun 1st. at 10:31:32 am UTC

RiverGypsy (Chicago, IL) Age: 24 - Email

in our beautiful pagan religions, 'elders' seem to be completely subjective.
In a coven, it could be your high priestess and high priest. It could be one who holds no office but is always available to try to answer your questions.
For a solitary, it could be an author who's books you read and re-read. It could be someone's page on the web that inspires you.
And in life in general, an elder can be your parents, your best friend, your spouse/partner, anyone you continually learn from, sometimes without even asking. And in turn, you can be an elder to someone else.
Those strong of heart, faithful in spirit, and with a true concern for others can be elders. Don't limit yourself...

Blessed be!

Re: Elders: Who Are They And Do We Really Need Them? Jun 1st. at 2:19:10 pm UTC

Julian Strychen (Norristown, PA) Age: 25 - Email - Web

I would imagine that the phrase 'Respect your elders' would come into play here. Of course, we should have respect for everything and everyone, but the phrase is a bit more than that. Elders have the gift of experience; they've seen and done more than you have. This is not to say that everything an older or more experienced person spouts out is
automatically correct, but it's a nice basis to start from. If you're going to go traipsing off into the unknown, consulting someone who's already been there is a good idea.

I must also note that the term 'Elder' when applied to *any* religious or philosophical sense does not necessarily denote age. I've met people older than me who have come to me for wisdom and advice (not many, mind you) . That's the core of the idea of an elder: someone who's wiser and
more experienced in the path you're seeking. Even if it's not the same exact path (and few are the same) , it's good to seek the advice of someone further along theirs. They may have an insight or two you don't.

So do we need them? Of course not. However, wisdom is a resource. If it's there for the asking, why not use it?

Do We Need Knowlege And Wisdom? Jun 1st. at 3:15:59 pm UTC

Penny J. Novack (Berkshire Mntns, MA, USA) Age: -62 - Email

It's so strange to see "elders" dismissed so easily by some while others are more tolerant and some actively enjoy what these people have to offer.

I said, once, that the term "Elder" is subject to many definitions -- and, as is true for almost any word, it is true for this one. But each of us has had wisdom at each stage of our lives and we all have something wonderful which we could, given the opportunity, give or teach. Time is a kind of education. A person could watch the Discovery channel constantly and read lots of books and end up with information. That is one sort of wisdom time offers a person. But one could also just live. Read some, play some, work some, love some -- have heartbreak some -- screw up some. Live. And after a while, if you're paying attention you learn a sort of kindness which is difficult for young adults to have -- because as you get older, if you're lucky, you learn not to be so critical of people, including yourself. You learn to see what's wonderful in other people and to appreciate their potential even when right now they're in a screw-up phase.

I don't think I'd have lived to get out of childhood if I hadn't been rescued numerous times by "Elders" who offered me a shoulder to cry on and a place to hide. One of my deepest goals was to grow up to be a Neat Little Old Lady. Because they were the best grownups I ever knew.

I can't relate to hating people who are old. Everybody has something to offer. Just not to every person.

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